photos by: the author and Brian Sabo
Addressing a Few Issues with Our ’68 Firebird
It’s been a while since we brought you an update on our ’68 Firebird project, that we’ve nicknamed, Project ReDo. Over the course of the last few years, we’ve converted it to EFI, installed 17-inch rollers, upgraded the suspension and gave it a nice detail job.
Truth be told, it didn’t need much. The car was already restored prior to our ownership but lacked in a few things in the cosmetic, mechanical and even body alignment areas. One of the areas that we wanted to address was the occasional overheating issues we’ve had with the car since we picked it up.
Despite the aftermarket aluminum radiator, electric fans and mechanical fan, it would overheat on really hot days or if we were getting caught in traffic. Having gone through the entire cooling system in search of leaks, a faulty thermostat, air pocket or perhaps even a blockage, it became apparent that a large factor was the lack of a radiator shroud.
What some don’t realize, is the radiator shroud not only protects your hands and fingers from getting caught in the engine fan, but helps direct air directly toward the engine. Without it, the fan is essentially throwing air towards the hood, towards the ground and basically everywhere else, really, besides towards the engine — leading to overheating issues.
It’s a simple and obvious issue that we needed to address, and now with Spring approaching, it seemed to be the perfect time. While we’re at it, we decided upon ordering an air dam (aka, front spoiler) for the car to add to the aesthetics. Some claim that the air dam will help the overheating issue when we sit in traffic and at speed, as it will direct air up into the engine bay for improved cooling.
Classic Industries‘ OEM replacement radiator shroud is a direct-fit replacement form your ’67-68 Camaro and Firebird, and is highly recommended if yours is damaged, missing or well-aged. It’s also available for big- and small-block applications and for those with or without A/C.
The shroud in our Firebird was missing upon arrival to our AutoCentric Media Tech Center upon acquisition, so after a one or two run-ins with overheating we made the call to Classic Industries for a new shroud.
Trouble is, our Firebird had a new aftermarket aluminum radiator of unknown branding or origin, and the OEM-style shroud wasn’t a direct bolt-on in this instance. Sure, it cleared the radiator and the fan but since our car has had some alterations in the radiator/shroud area, in addition to the aftermarket radiator, it would need some slight modifications to work.
We ordered this up for two reasons; one was for the increased cooling capabilities, the other was for improved aesthetics. We felt that the front of the car was “missing something,” and we’ve always been a fan of the Trans-Am Series race cars of the ’60s. Being as how our Firebird is quickly becoming a great-handling car, we felt we wanted to implement some of that road-racing nostalgia into Project Redo.
Lucky for us, Classic Industries was able to answer the call again, with their ’67-68 front spoiler, aka, air dam. It’s a direct bolt-in, but our car seemed to need a couple of additional holes drilled into the lower valance for us to make the upgrade.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of Timeless Muscle Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.